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Weekly News Roundup 3/13 to 3/19

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VET MED Act introduced to alleviate veterinary student debt

Two veterinarians in Congress, Representatives Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Ted Yoho of Florida introduced the bipartisan Veterinary Education & Training Minimizes Educational Debt Act. The federal legislation will help alleviate the cost of additional training for veterinarians. The VET MED Act is seen as a simple way to eliminate a roadblock facing veterinarians who want to train for specialized fields, such as large- and small-animal surgery, equine medicine, and oncology. The VET MED Act will allow veterinary students serving in internship or residency programs to be eligible for interest-free deferment on their student loans during their residency. Veterinary student loan debt is a top issue for veterinarians and can create a financial barrier for them postgraduation and for decades afterwards. . . . more

Coronavirus vaccines: Five key questions as trials begin

The push to make a coronavirus vaccine is moving at breakneck speed. This week, the first of a few dozen healthy volunteers in Seattle, Washington, received a vaccine in a phase-1 safety trial sponsored by the US government. Similar safety trials of other coronavirus vaccines will also begin soon. Even as these “first in human” trials get going, key questions about how our immune system fights off the virus—and how to safely trigger a similar immune response with a vaccine—remain unanswered. . . . more

Respirators, quarantines, and worst-case scenarios: Lab-animal facilities grapple with the pandemic

The US National Institutes of Health announced this week that it is “deeply concerned about the impact of [COVID-19] on the ability of . . . institutions to support the well-being of animals and personnel during this public health emergency.” And indeed, many universities are currently grappling with the best way to care for the millions of mice, monkeys, and other research animals they care for across the country, in addition to protecting the health of their own employees. Science magazine chatted with the heads of two leading animal facilities—Eric Hutchinson, DVM, DACLAM, associate director of research-animal resources at Johns Hopkins University, and Peter Smith, DVM, DACLAM, associate director of Yale University’s Animal Resources Center—about how they’re coping with quarantines, animal welfare, and worst-case scenarios. . . . more

Thomas Waerner of Norway wins the Iditarod

Thomas Waerner of Norway returned to the real world early Wednesday morning when he arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, as the winner of the 48th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Waerner, 47, crossed under the burled-arch finish line at 12:37 a.m. to the cheers of several hundred spectators who gathered amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19. For more than nine days he had escaped everything but the trail and his dogs. Now his race was over, his dogs had been fed a finish-line snack, and Waerner was listening to a reporter’s question about current events and whether they had impacted his mood. . . . more